(TG-16 / TurboGrafx-16)

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (TG-16 / TurboGrafx-16)

Game Review

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

The PC Engine classic finally arrives on the Virtual Console

The Castlevania titles have seen releases on a variety of game consoles over the years, but it's this PC Engine release that's garnered a lot of attention and focus among diehard game fans and collectors over the years. Since the game was only released in Japan, gamers who wanted to play the game have long been forced to pay the lofty price tag to import the game, at least until now. With the release of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on the Virtual Console service, gamers can finally enjoy the game without having to pay the exorbitant price tag associated without the original PC Engine CD release.

Fans of the earlier Castlevania releases should feel right at home with Rondo of Blood as it doesn't stray too far from the traditional gameplay elements found in the 8 and 16-bit releases. The majority of your tasks will be platforming your way through the game's many levels and using your whip to take down the many enemies that come your way. Speciality items also make a return in the game and are once again controlled by pressing Up on the D-Pad. Konami obviously felt the standard control scheme worked quite well in the previous releases so why mess with a good thing?

One interesting feature of Rondo of Blood is the hidden and branching pathways through the game's various levels. There's no one way to travel through the game and many alternate pathways feature new and sometimes more challenging bosses to take on. Some will prove to be shortcuts, whereas others can end up being the long way around, not to mention quite a bit more difficult. It's up to you to figure out which is which throughout the course of the game.

Rondo of Blood features the same smooth and responsive controls fans of the earlier efforts have come to expect from the games, although this might turn off more recent fans who've come to expect the more in-depth character controls in many of the later Castlevania releases. The levels themselves are very well designed and offer plenty of challenges on your way to one of the game's many engaging boss fights. Combine the alternate pathways with some of the most playable boss fights in the series and you have a game that will keep you coming back for more time and time again.

The PC Engine's large colour palette offered up a great way to get more detail out of the visuals than most other systems of the era without having to make use of added processing power, meaning Rondo of Blood is certainly no slouch in the graphics department. The fact that the game was housed on a CD-Rom instead of a HuCard pretty much allowed the developers to run rampant and include all of the musical and graphical extras they wanted to, something that also adds to the visual splash of the game. The end result is one of the most visually impressive Castlevania releases of the era and a testament to what could be done with the CD-Rom medium, even as new as it was for game consoles and their developers at the time.

As solid as other areas of the game are, nothing can touch the majesty of Rondo of Blood's CD-quality musical score. While you could argue that some of the more modern Castlevania releases have exceeded the quality of this 16-bit original, it's impossible to ignore how impressive this soundtrack was for its time period. There's not a bad track in the entire game, and even some of the more familiar tunes, like the all-time classic "Vampire Killer", have never sounded better than they do in this release. Toss in some interesting german voiced dialog to kick off the game and you have what is hands down one of the most impressive audio experiences to come out of the 16-bit era and still one of the best video game soundtracks ever crafted.


Rondo of Blood hasn't acquired the reputation of being one of the finest Castlevania games in existence over the years for nothing. Not only does it feature some absolutely fantastic level design, many with multiple pathways, but the PC Engine CD-quality soundtrack is among the best music the series has ever offered. Couple all of this with the same high level of challenge fans of the series have come to expect over the years and you have a Castlevania experience that should please even the most finicky fans of the series. And if by some chance you've yet to experience this amazing platformer, this Virtual Console release is the perfect opportunity to find out what all the fuss is about.

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User Comments (91)



MrPinguy said:

The cutsceens have some kind of translation? or they were leaved as they were like other imports releases?
And the menus are easy to navigate?

(I only played the PSP port)



Corbs said:

Everything is exactly as it was in the original. You'll have absolutely no trouble navigating the menus or the game.



Sabrewing said:

For people who played SOTN first, Richter is MUCH less capable in this adventure. His special moves are sorely missed, but then, they would've broken the gameplay in this one. Kinda like how Maria does.



Donatello said:

No whip twirling like in SCIV makes me a sad panda.
But whatever, I can't wait to play this.

Midnight + Candles Lit + Rondo of Blood = Epic



evilralfwiggum said:

Great game. Glad to see it finally on the Virtual Console. I already own it for PSP, so I doubt I'll be downloading it.. but if they ever released Castlevania Bloodlines, that's the VC Castlevania i'm going to download. _



Croz said:

Can't wait to play this on my LCD, tried the PSP version which is a quality game but it was too small and blurry for my liking, so I couldn’t really get into it. Also I hated how you had to play in ugly PSP graphics until you unlocked the original game. Now if we could only get copy of SOTN on Wii to complete all my collection of favourite castlevania games, or even on PSN for that matter.



outrun2sp said:

Best game on the machine TG16 and one of the best games ever made for me anyway. After years it is finally available in its original state.

Prices will drop for the original now perhaps.

If only they could emulate Sapphire but im not sure if the wii can handle arcade card emulation.



Omega said:

I'm a little bit confused.

Is Rondo of Blood similar to Dracula X / Vampire's Kiss on the SNES? Or is it something completely different? The cover artwork for both titles looks almost the same.

I have heard the PC Engine version is easier? Is this the only difference?



Cowlauncher said:

Why did they change the German Voice actor in the intro? I noticed this on the PSP version too.



JamieO said:

It is simply brilliant to see Rondo of Blood on Virtual Console, I am chuffed. I will download this one, even if I have already got it on PSP. Like the other comments have mentioned, it needs to be played on the big TV screen, hooking my PSP up to the telly does not compare to this.

@Omega The two titles are similar, I will note my understanding of the differences, but I am not an expert, so any NLife 'Castlevania Connoisseurs' are welcome to correct me. SNES Dracula XX has the same story and comparable visual design (though not as strong as the PC-Engine CD ROM original), but the levels are different. The SNES version does not have the Anime style cut-scenes, there are not as many secret areas and while you still save Maria, you don't get to play her on SNES.

The UK independent SNES mag Super Play reviewed the PAL version as Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss in issue 35 (Sept 1995), with a score of 80%. Their main complaints were that basing it on the PC Engine CD ROM title actually held it back! They stated "it's a regressive step, considering Castlevania IV appeared in 1991". They said that No.IV's SNES mode 7 graphics were more technically flash and controlling Super Castlevania IV's Simon is better than Dracula XX's Richter. They noted that Simon had more versatile primary attacks, they listed that he could power-up his weapon strengths and had greater upward direction and spinnable whip ability (as @Donatello mentioned above).

Super Play may have had sour grapes though, they probably knew that SNES Dracula XX (Vampire's Kiss) was a decent game, but was ultimaterly inferior to PC Engine Rondo of Blood. I would still get the SNES game, just get the PC Engine version first.



D00M said:

Cross Fear.

Ugly PSP graphics for the remake? Does that include the remade intro or the pre-boss cut scenes? Castlevania never looked so good...



odd69 said:

Nice review corbs. It made me drool even more for this game. I'm buying this and cave story next week so im super excited.



outrun2sp said:

well ive actually played vampires kiss and while its inferior its a good game.

Different layout of levels but a good game still.



Croz said:

@D00M, ok maybe not ugly but I just felt it ruined the overall style and feel of the game, atleast for me anyway.



Golgo said:

Can you save your progress in this game, or is it all about the suspend feature? (Sorry, bit sensitive to save issues after hearing some people moaing about re-starts in Castlevania rebirth)



Crunc said:

I might pick this up, but I've yet to ever finish a Castlevania game (admittedly limited to DS and GBA versions) before getting tired of it and getting rid of it. I enjoy them for a while, but then it just seems repetitive and overly difficult. Still I do enjoy them for a while, and maybe this is the one I'll actually finish? I certainly wouldn't be "getting rid of it!"



Sushie said:

As soon I booted this up, the first thing my lady friend said ( the very definition of casual gamer) was that it looked like a Streetfighter game. I'm loving this, it feels about as challenging as Super Castlevania 4, and while I always miss the control of that particular game, the boss fights, the art and music (as well as the item crash) make up for it. Probably the best in the old series so far for me. This just makes me want Bloodlines even more.



D00M said:

You can save your progress, when you lose all lives you can save and quit.

Also with Rebirth, at the game start screen push right for 5 seconds to start at previous levels you've completed.

@ Crunc, Rondo has some very tough bosses, However if you unlock Maria you can cheese your way through. minor SPOILERS...

One stage is just one long boss fight and I had a very hard time getting past it.



Golgo said:

Thanks Doom. Interesting info. about Rebirth. Now I don't know which to get: Rondo or Rebirth...lol.



StarBoy91 said:

@Twilight - nope. I notice that, too, and apparently so did Kwing from YouTube when he reviewed SNES Castlevania: Dracula X (he used the PC-Engine Akumajou Dracula X Chi no Rondo introductory cutscenes while explaining the Story portion of the game). I recall watching his video review years ago.
But I digress; great job with the review, Corbie.

ReZon wrote:

Jumping on stairs = happiness.


This, and Star Parodier, have my two top favorite PC-Engine soundtracks there is.



D00M said:

Golgo, No problem. I'd pick up Rondo as it has far more replayability than Rebirth's 6 stages...I think Rondo may be cheaper too.

Rebirth seemed more like an tribute to Castlevania than the real deal.



StarBoy91 said:

While it was fun to moonwalk as Simon in Super Castlevania IV up and down the stairs, I find it more fun to moonwalk as Richter (by holding down the Whip button). Awesome.



Egg_miester said:

i am still depressed that i wont be able to get any wii points intel next month but great review for a epic game



StarBoy91 said:

@Shmavey - what makes you say that? In Super Castlevania IV, you could not jump while on the steps, you could not do a backflip in midair, and you could not execute Item Crashes.



StarBoy91 said:

Yes, he was.
While I don't mind that the eight-way directional whipping had not appeared in Akumajou Dracula X Chi no Rondo, I do wish Richter could be controlled during midair like Simon was in Super Castlevania IV.



Roebuck77 said:

Got it, love it. I do wish it was translated though. I wonder if they'll release Dracula X.



accc said:

I'd probably give Dracula X a 10/10, it's about as close to perfection as videogames get.



odd69 said:

I found rebirth to be more than just a tribute. I think its just more of a bite size Castlevania, besides i owe that game much credit for turning me onto the older series.Before i only liked the "metriodvania" style games.



Slionr said:

Hope they wont forget Dracula X/Vampires kiss to for VC^^
yea, its not as good as Rondo of blood, but that does not mean its not worth playin=D



StarBoy91 said:

I'm also interested in playing Akumajou Dracula XX/Castlevania: Dracula X/Vampire's Kiss [JP/NA/EU].



moomoo said:

Deserves an 11, at least in my opinion... Great review, by the way. I'm suprised how good it looks, even by today's standards. It looks great on a 42 inch widescreen, which is quite a testament.



This game deserves a 6, maybe a 7 (though, that might be pushing it). The level design is awful, the enemies are pretty bland, and the music isn't all that impressive either. I wish they'd release Bloodlines already, I'm dyin' to play a real Castlevania game!



jaguarman said:

Toki yes the Bloodlines(new generation in EU) is very good game ,i have the original on mega drive, but the rondo of blood has better graphics ,much better sound and gameplay of course, believe me man the rondo of blood is one step forward from all the castlevania games in 16 bit era.



Corbs said:

I like Bloodlines, but it's fairly far down my list of favorite Castlevania titles. But to each his own I guess.



Linkuini said:

Would I still like this game even though I hate Castlevania Dracula X? Because this one would have to be a lot better. The review mentioned good level design – perhaps the levels in Rondo of Blood are better suited for a character as aggravatingly slow as Richter than the ones in Dracula X?



D00M said:

mmm, Bloodlines (a real Castlevania) with NO Belmonts and 1 stage set in Castlevania...
Only redeeming feature is Michiru Yamane's soundtrack.
To each his own though.



StarBoy91 said:

To each his own, as I often say.
Michiru Yamane makes some good soundtracks [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan; Castlevania: Symphony of the Night].



StarBoy91 said:

The box art is still awesome.
@AceRocks - you won't be disappointed.

Also, I liked those encounters against Death; but I shall not spoil anything.



CanisWolfred said:

One of my favorites in the series, after the original and Symphony of the Night. A joy from start to finish, though the final stage is an absolute pain!



StarBoy91 said:

Are you talking about the Clock Tower stage or the confrontation against Dracula stage, Mick? I assume you're referring to the Clock Tower stage.



brooks83 said:

I've been wanting to play this game ever since I heard about it about 12 years ago. At that time I even considered buying an import PC Engine just for this game. Well all these years later I am finally able to play this game, and it is a dream come true. This game is epic. Outstanding. Simply amazing. Everything I thought it would be and more. Words really can't express how cool it is to finally be able to play such a long lost classic such as this. Worth every penny of the 900 points, and possibly even worth buying a Wii just to play this game in it's original form. 10/10



MrHeli said:

Gonna wake up extra early and download this bad boy early doors. Been on a castkevania tip since finally bothering to unlock SoTN on the PSP game last week.. Pay day tomorrow and hopefully 42" rondo day/weekend too!!



CanisWolfred said:


Believe it or not, the Clock Tower stage wasn't that bad this time around. The Confrontation stage is a chore, mostly because I always lose a lot of health at the beginning, and sometimes even a couple lives.



Sushie said:

Anyone know where one could find a translation of all the dialogue? I'd love to know what they're saying. Bless whoever got this released, It's a wonderful game, maybe the best VC purchase I've made so far, but I wonder how hard it could have been to put some english subtitles in, when they've done something similar on another system.



Sushie said:

@ StarBoy91: I agree, most of the mid-game bosses were way harder than than Dracula for me.I remember he was easy in Syphoney as well.



StarBoy91 said:

@Sushie - the website Castlevania Dungeon has dialogue that is translated from this game.
The best part about Symphony of the Night is that it takes off from where Akumajou Dracula X Chi no Rondo left off.



Sushie said:

I agree, i remember getting symphony back when it came out for the PS1, and totally was not expecting the prologue. I had no idea who Richter even was.



MrHeli said:

@Bass X0 - I was too tired to wait up 'til 11..so woke up at 4 instead! There's something about the original PC Engine version on my plasma that kicks ass. Great game



ejamer said:

Really enjoying this game. It's simple, and decidely old-school... but the branching paths and beautiful graphics breath new life into the classic Castlevania formula. I was hesitant to buy this one instead of Castlevania Rebirth... but after spending a couple hours with Rondo of Blood I have no regrets at all.



The first level has the best song in the whole game!



StarBoy91 said:

Soundtrack is excellent.
Dance of Illusion (fight music against Dracula) is epic, Ghost Ship Painting is atmospheric, and Cemetery and Cross Fear are really good songs, to name a few. Not that Bloodlines (first stage) isn't also a good song, it is.



jazzydude said:

not as good as the symphony of the night or the fourth game but still sweet. gotta love the music! 8/10



vio said:

I agree star. SC 4 is king IMO. It has better graphics, better gameplay and dare I say it, better music. I know people will think I'm crazy for saying that, but I actually prefer 4's music even though it's not CD quality. Rondo is a great game, but a bit overrated. It has a lot of replay value though; with 2 playable characters and all the alternate stages and pathways. It was well worth the $9.



Knux said:

This game rocks, it is challenging and so freaking fun! Best TG16 game I ever played so far!



Ryno said:

Best music ever in a Video Game! This game is awesome and if you are reading this download it right now!



Big_A2 said:

Okay guys, it's either this or Symphony of the Night. Which one should I choose?

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